Everyone seems to have a gym membership these days. Whether you stick with the same place year after year or hop around, a gym membership can be expensive, especially if you opt for a full service institution.
When you are single, you might be able to justify spending $50 or even $100 per month on your membership, but once those kids start coming along, you find yourself rethinking that sum of money. There are many ways you can cut back and still find a good gym for your workouts, and here are a few suggestions.
Levels of Membership
Before you sign on that dotted line, think seriously about whether or not you need that level of service. There are many factors here. First, will you use the gym enough to justify the expense?
For example, a YMCA membership for a single individual in my neighborhood is $46, whereas the city recreation centers are only $38.50 per month. If you drop the pool privileges, you drop to $30 per month. One local gym costs $9 per month if you only use the weights and cardio equipment.
Even if you do pick a full service gym, find out if they offer different packages. If the gym you choose has a pool, you will pay for it even if you don’t use it. Other gyms have racquet sports that require an additional fee too. It goes without saying that if you don’t play, don’t pay. Some gyms charge for specific classes separately, while others charge a single fee for access to all classes. Only pay for what you need.
When NOT to Buy
Never buy a membership the first time you walk into a gym. You may be tempted by all the shiny equipment and good intentions, but you don’t have an accurate perception of the gym the second you walk in. Ask for a free pass and try it out for a couple of weeks. Remember to visit at the times you would usually plan to attend to see how busy the facility gets.
Check the crowds on the weekends and during the evening hours. This will give you a better idea of how the place operates. You don’t want to have to fight for a treadmill to use or wrestle over the weights.
Don’t fall for New Year resolutions and purchase a membership in the first couple of months of the year. The first few weeks of the year are when gyms are packed with people determined to live right. By March, few people are left and the gyms are much more interested in bargaining with you to boost their membership numbers.
For the same reason, avoid the early summer since people are trying to get back into shape before the season starts. Gyms have little incentive to negotiate when the crowds are at the doors.
One More Tip
If you have any skills in teaching and exercise, you can sometimes translate them into free memberships. For example, getting a certificate as a spinning teacher or personal trainer makes you a potential employee. Employees don’t pay to work out at the gym and they can often include a spouse or partner in their privilege.
Are Gym Memberships for Me?
Though gym memberships are expensive, they are not always a bad investment. The added benefits of improved fitness and a lower rate of health risks translate into even bigger savings down the road. But if you choose to pay for it, make sure you enjoy it too!
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